Ryan Shelman named SEISC Coach of the Year; Five Lady Lions chosen All-Conference

By TJ Rhodes
Posted 3/9/23

The young Lone Tree Lady Lions team was doubted at the start of the season. No one thought they’d have as successful of a season as they did.

Coached by Ryan Shelman, the team finished its …

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Ryan Shelman named SEISC Coach of the Year; Five Lady Lions chosen All-Conference


The young Lone Tree Lady Lions team was doubted at the start of the season. No one thought they’d have as successful of a season as they did.

Coached by Ryan Shelman, the team finished its season with a 13-9 record, falling just short in the Class 1A – Region 3 first round of the playoffs to the Midland Eagles.

Despite the unfortunate end to the season, the team still has a ton of promise for the future. With Riley Krueger as the sole senior, the team is extremely young. Krueger was a vital part of the team that will be missed, however.

After an impressive season came the accolades. Shelman, in his fourth year as head coach for the Lone Tree Lady Lions, received the SEISC-North head coach of the year award.

“It is a very humbling honor to be recognized by the other coaches in the conference for having a successful season,” Shelman said. “I think the award says more about our team and how willing the girls are to learn and work hard while focusing on getting better every day.”

Shelman also received the honor to be the Southeast co-head coach at the Iowa Basketball Coach Associations (IBCA) Pizza Ranch All Star Game on Mar. 25 for 2023 seniors. This game will be played at Dallas Center-Grimes High School and Oak View Middle School in Grimes, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa.

“This is probably a once in a career experience to get to be involved with something of this caliber and get the privilege of working with the elite talent that the state of Iowa has to offer,” Shelman said. “As a coach, you spend so much time and energy doing what you enjoy, that it is just nice to be recognized with an opportunity.”

Sadly, no Lady Lions will make the trip to play in this game.

Continuing with the accolades, freshman, Finley Jacque, received first-team all-conference honors, leading the Lady Lions with 295 points in her first season. Jacque was second in assists with 49.

“Finley is very deserving of the first team honor,” Shelman said. “As her scoring started to improve, she really opened up opportunities for the other girls within our offense. She had a breakout freshman season and I feel like she has the potential to be great.”

Jacque had an overall great season. Jacque was very efficient shooting this season, banking 40 three-point shots to lead her team and having a 41.8% field goal percentage while also hitting 41/67 free throws, the most on the team. She was fifth overall in scoring and steals in the conference, and third in three-pointers.

“Finley is very coachable and a great teammate. She does a nice job of handling the ball at the point of our attack and she kept improving her defense throughout the season,” Shelman said.

Senior, Riley Krueger, earned second-team all-conference honors and the IGCA E. Wayne Cooley “You Can” award, an award to recognize a player who is an inspiration and leader, just as important to the team, even if they didn’t get a first-team all-conference award. Krueger was second in scoring with 162 and was third in assists with 35.

“[Riley] will be missed moving forward. She has always been a great shooter for us,” Shelman said. “I think the reason she was recognized for second team is because she improved in other aspects of her game.”

Kruger’s time in high school spans Shelman’s entire tenure as coach, being the only player to work with him his first four years.

“[Riley] provided a lot of senior leadership on our team,” Shelman said. “In her career, she saw two winning seasons and has helped shape the culture moving forward.”

Sophomore, Vivian Zaruba, also received second-team honors. Zaruba was third in scoring with 137, second in rebounds with 117 and first in assists with 59.

“Vivian’s defense this year was outstanding. We put her at the top of our press and the top of our 1-3-1 defense and she created so many tips and deflections that led to steals and turnovers for our team,” Shelman said.

Zaruba could be seen on both sides of the court working hard, almost splitting her rebounds between the offensive and defensive side of the court as well as having the second most blocks with 13 and second most steals with 60.

“[Zaruba] has really come into her own as an offensive player this year as well. She has spent a lot of extra time working on her shot and getting better. What makes Vivian great is that she does so many things well like rebounding and taking care of the ball,” Shelman said.

Lone Tree also had two players who received honorable mentions; freshman Alyson Ford and sophomore Rylee Shield. Shield led the team in rebounds with 132 while Ford was third in rebounds with 105 while also leading the team in blocks with 22.

“Rylee and Alyson had great [seasons] for us in the front court. They both rebound the ball and get after it defensively,” Shelman said. “What I admire both from these young ladies is their willingness to get better and they are very coachable.”

The future for the Lady Lions is bright with young leadership and solid coaching. Shelman believes that their success can be attributed to their tight defensive play and the fact they didn’t try to be who they are not.

“One of the things we talked about with our team is to have fun and play together. I felt like in our Belle Plaine game, everything just clicked, and we started to play together,” Shelman said. “It was exciting as a coach to watch our progression and our girls having fun this season.”

For Shelman, basketball has been a synergetic aspect of his life. Starting when he was young, his parents took him to local high school basketball on the regular. Shelman described his parents as potentially being the “biggest high school basketball junkies” who went to his games as a kid and still come to his games now as a coach.

Shelman played high school ball at WACO High School in Wayland, Iowa. Shelman played under “legendary” coach, Bob Hilmer, who retired as the all-time winningest coach in the state of Iowa with a 917-347 record in his 57 years coaching.

Shelman was a 1,000+ scorer, earning a Golden Triangle, Burlington Hawkeye player of the year in 2006 at the Iowa State Tournament and was a part of a team that won four straight SEISC-West division titles. Leaving high school, Shelman held many of WACO’s basketball records.

After high school, Shelman played a year of college ball at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. After this year, he transitioned to the coaching aspect of the game, spending another season as a Student Assistant under Wartburg’s Women’s Basketball Coach, Bob Amsberry.

Shelman continued this path as coach when he became West Burlington’s boys’ varsity head coach, holding onto the position for seven years.

“When I arrived, the [Burlington] program was in need of an overhaul. In my time there, I saw so much improvement in our program,” Shelman said. “We were able to win two district titles and one SEISC-South Shootout championships there as well.”

After marrying, Shelman moved to the Quad Cities where he accepted a job at Davenport West as boy’s assistant varsity and sophomore coach. Wanting the head coach spot again, he found the Lone Tree position and leaped at the opportunity.

“I was excited that Lone Tree had an opening because it is a great community,” Shelman said. I feel like in my four years I have been here, I have seen this program grow and girls are starting to get excited about basketball. I am very excited for the future of Lady Lion basketball.”

Driving Shelman’s passion in coaching is his love for the game and love of sharing his knowledge for the younger generation. Another factor is his family.

Expect the Lady Lions to rebound next season, having a great year of experience now under their belt, using this experience to push for a hopeful deep playoff run.


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